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Last Updated: Sunday, 11 January, 2004, 11:37 GMT
UK woman claims South Pole record
Fiona Thornewill
Fiona Thornewill walked 700 miles in 42 days
A British woman has achieved the fastest time for walking unaided to the South Pole, her team has said.

Fiona Thornewill, 37, from Thurgarton in Nottinghamshire, took 42 days to walk 700 miles (1127km) from the edge of the Antarctic to the pole.

She had been trying only to become the first UK woman to get there unaided.

But in doing so she claims to have smashed the 44-day world record for an unsupported trek to the pole. She is now awaiting a flight home.

I know that people were willing me on, so that inspired me
Fiona Thornewill

Speaking to the BBC via satellite phone, Ms Thornewill said reaching the pole was an emotional experience.

She said: "When I arrived at the pole I actually had tears in my eyes.

"I couldn't believe I was there... it was overpowering.

"I know that people were willing me on, so that inspired me."

She celebrated the achievement by drinking champagne in a hut at the polar base.

Fiona and Mike Thornewill
Mrs Thornewill's husband Mike is also in Antarctica

Another UK woman, Rosie Stancer, began a separate attempt to walk to the pole on the same day as Ms Thornewill.

The two women, who flew to Antarctica on the same plane, started on 30 November from the same spot of Hercules Inlet, but insisted their trek was not a race.

According to her website Ms Stancer, a 43-year-old cousin of the Queen from London, has covered about half of the trip so far.

Ms Thornewill, who had anticipated doing the trek in 65 days, is an experienced polar adventurer who in 2001, together with Catharine Hartley, became the first woman ever to walk to both the north and south poles.

Freezing conditions

The news of her arrival was posted on her online expedition log at 22:59 GMT on 10 January.

She has covered on average more than 16 miles a day, towing a 285lb (129kg) sledge loaded with food, fuel and equipment.

According to her website, temperatures have been about -14C in recent days but her route was against a headwind that provided a -50C chill.

She had not been contactable for the last month before she reached the pole, because she was without phone communication, but she still had tracking equipment on her, which her team could follow.

Her husband Mike, a police officer, is also heading to the South Pole with a team of novices on another route.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Daniel Boettcher
"She travelled much faster than she had planned, taking just 42 days"



SEE ALSO:
Trekker secretive about progress
10 Dec 03  |  Nottinghamshire
Women aim for polar record
19 Nov 03  |  Nottinghamshire
UK trio set polar records
06 May 01  |  UK News
Double Pole record set
05 Jan 00  |  UK News


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